The Boston Celtics will try to achieve their first five-game winning streak of the season when they host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday in a matchup of Eastern Conference hopefuls. The teams enter February separated by a half-game in the East and within shouting distance of first-place Cleveland, but they aren’t necessarily trending in the same direction.
Boston has leaped ahead of Toronto on the strength of four straight wins, matching a run it has accomplished two other times since mid-December, while the Raptors will once again play without leading scorer DeMar DeRozan (ankle) as they seek consecutive victories for the first time in two weeks. Isaiah Thomas remains the catalyst for the Celtics and continues to do loads of damage when it counts most, scoring 24 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter of Monday’s 113-109 win over Detroit at home. “[Detroit] kind of kept us off-balance with their coverages, and so we just tried to get him off the ball some,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “And then when he got going late, he just got going, so it didn’t matter if he was off the ball or on the ball. He was unbelievable.” The Raptors, who have won the first two meetings, needed overtime to pick up just their second win in eight games Tuesday night at home, recording a 108-106 triumph over New Orleans.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One (Toronto), CSN New England (Boston)
LINE HISTORY: The Celtics opened as 5.5-point favorites but that opening number took a sharp jump right away up to -6.5. The total hit the board at 217.5 but was bet down to 216 by mid-afternoon. Check out the complete line history here.
Raptors – SG D. DeRozan (Out, ankle).
Celtics – SG A. Bradley (Questionable, achilles), PG D. Jackson (Out Indefinitely, illness).
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Raptors (-9.4) – Celtics (-5) + home court (-3) = Raptors -1.4
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (30-19 SU, 28-20-1 ATS, 30-19 O/U): DeRozan returned from a three-game absence to score 22 points against Orlando on Sunday, but coach Dwane Casey ruled him out for Tuesday’s win, as well as the visit to Boston. Kyle Lowry has been up to the task in filling the void and reached the 30-point plateau in three straight games for the first time in his career. Norman Powell took DeRozan’s spot in the starting lineup and is averaging 18.5 points in those four games, nearly three times his season average.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (30-18 SU, 26-20-2 ATS, 28-20-2 O/U): Guard Avery Bradley, who has missed 11 of the last 12 games due to an Achilles injury, returned to practice Tuesday and is hoping to return soon. “I wouldn’t say it’s at 100 percent,” he told reporters. “I hope it is. This is my first time in a real practice in two weeks. I’m going to come back tonight and go hard work out again and do the same thing tomorrow. We’ll see how I feel.” Center Al Horford, who had 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the first home game against Toronto, returned from a two-game layoff with a groin issue to chip in 13 points, six boards and six assists versus Detroit.
* Raptors are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games when their starting 5 players combine for more than 160 minutes of the previous day.
* Celtics are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 vs. NBA Atlantic.
* Over is 14-3 in Raptors last 17 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Over is 11-2 in Celtics last 13 home games.
* Raptors are 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: At the time of publication, there was no consensus data available. View full consensus data here.